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The Tricky World of Emotions

Oh emotions.

How we love to hate them, analyze them, squash them down, let them erupt, and allow them to spin us around in dizzying directions for days.

I find myself having the "emotions conversation" with clients regardless of age, season of life, or reason they've come to see me. Emotions are so universally misunderstood and confusing.

It's not our fault though. It's just the way it has been for so long. We often aren't taught what they actually are, what to do with them, or how to process them.

So I'd like to offer the readers digest version of the "emotions conversation". Here it goes:

  1. Emotion broken down is e-motion or quite literally energy in motion.

  2. This means your emotions are sensations that are occurring in your body. (This is the major point of somatic therapy). Emotions are not a mental process occurring in your mind. The more you let your mind try to process emotions the messier things are going to get.

  3. The body is this magical unicorn that digests food, breathes, keeps your body in a very specific pH balance all without your needing to be a conscious part of it. Emotions are part of that list.

  4. Your body knows what to do with emotions, how to process them, how to move them through on its own. It's that smart!

  5. So how do emotions get trapped? Because our mind tries to take over control. And if our mind is not trained we soon find ourselves in a rabbit hole of thoughts that end up in the worst case scenario. We forget about the sensation - the energy part of the emotion - that is still in our bodies.

  6. Our very simple (yet very difficult job) is to get our minds out of it and just focus on the sensations arising in our body. Miraculously over time they subside. (This is a very real and crazy experience I've led most of my clients through - even my kiddos.)

  7. For mild annoyances this process can be quick, sometimes minutes. For deeper things that have been there for awhile (think family, long standing resentments, ex boyfriends or girlfriends, etc) this process can take months and even longer.

So here's the practice: When you are facing a challenging situation or feeling a challenging emotion pause to ask yourself, "Where do I feel this in my body?" Then try and keep you mind, your awareness, on that sensation.

Then go to work consciously relaxing that area of the body. Chances are it is tensed or contracted or engaged. Physically relax that area or just intention or imagine relaxing that area. This helps to release that stuck emotion - that stuck energy.

Here is a meditation that takes you through this technique.

This can be used for just about anything. I recently had a client tell me she is almost always anxious while driving. She's been practicing this technique.

Now when she feels anxious she stops to locate the sensation in her body and then relaxes that area of her body. She told me she keeps doing this as many times as it comes up on her drive. In the end she arrives at her destination feeling relaxed instead of anxious.

The main point: Pay attention to your body. It holds the story of your life and has the potential to release you from the grip of stories playing out over and over again.


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